Ma.gnolia Data is Gone For Good

The social bookmarking service Ma.gnolia reports that all of its user data was irretrievably lost in the Jan. 30 database crash that knocked the service offline. That means that users who were unable to recover their bookmarks through publicly available tools (including other social media sites and the Google cache) have lost all their data.

Ma.gnolia founder Larry Halff said last week that the service’s MySQL database included nearly half a terabyte of data. Yesterday Halff informed users that a specialist had been unable to recover any data from the corrupted hard drive. “Unfortunately, database file recovery has been unsuccessful and I won’t be able to recover members’ bookmarks from the Ma.gnolia database,” he wrote.

Halff recently recorded a podcast with Chris Messina in which he discussed the database crash and the lessons to be found for other startups in Ma.gnolia’s experience. The primary lesson: don’t try to do everything yourself. “I made a huge mistake in how I set up my (backup) system,” Halff said.

It turns out that Ma.gnolia was pretty much a one-man operation, running on two Mac OS X servers and four Mac minis. A clear lesson for users is not to assume that online services have lots of staff, lots of servers and professional backups, and to keep your own copies of your data, especially on free services. 

Halff has won some admirersf or his handling of the aftermath of the database crash, but there are also many users who have been critical of Ma.gnolia’s operations.  “It has not been an easy two weeks, but … the community reaction has really affirmed my faith in humanity,” Halff wrote in a comment on a summary by Todd Sieling.

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About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor at large of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.

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  1. Wow - pretty big for a oe man band, but given how critical his information was (it IS his business, right!) I cannot believe his database can crash and wipe everything. Its pretty rudimentary, really. I'd be surprised if many stay loyal given the potential for causing majorheadaches that a bookmarking site going pop has.

  2. Ouch... Isn't part of a backup strategy to sometimes attempt a recovery from a backup, on a test system?

  3. jeff

    @Chris I think the live system was the test system... doh

  4. Anon

    The huge mistake was not testing a restore from the backup system.